Every morning we met at John Jay High School. There is a school bus service with yellow buses which all stopped in front of the school, and pick you up if you need, after school, to go home.
This school is very big, there are several buildings destined to the different subjects (science building for example). There are many hall-ways (with wall-to-wall carpeting on the floor !) lined up with the well-known American lockers, in which students put their belongings. The school has its own sports buildings and fields. The Restrooms are perfectly and absolutely clean and modern.
Students’ school diary is similar for everybody, given at the beginning of the year. There is the school’s name on the cover with an American flag. At the end of the year, a book is given to students about the passed year with all the highlights of the year : photos, funny stories, anecdotes.
The lessons are shorter than ours, they last 45 minutes. American students are very respectful of their teachers, and their relationship is friendly, there is a real impression of equality. They listen to each other, and pupils never hesitate to ask loads of questions.
The attitude in class is very relaxed, cool. Students can take laid-back positions for working, and can go to restrooms. Boys can keep their cap on their heads.
Americans are patriotic even at school, there is the American flag in every classroom (and a television too). They study the same subjects as we do, maths, chemistry, English, history, geography, physical education, a second language. They have to follow a music or art class and health education for minimum a year . There is an orchestra and a choir.
If teachers are absent, pupils usually sit down in hall-ways or go to the cafeteria.
High school correspond to our lycée but there are 4 years. At the end of the third year, students have the SAT, an exam like our bac, and it’s necessary to pass it to go to College. If they want to go to a great university, They have two others exams : PSAT and ACT. Along the year, they have to do midterms. They can follow an AP class (Advanced Placement). It’s an advanced lesson in a subject which prepares students to get the Advanced Placement exam in this subject.
Students start school at 8 P.M. and finish around 2 or 3 a.m. Sometimes they don’t have a break for lunch so they can eat in class at all times. They have a cafeteria which looks like a little supermarket : you can buy a hot meals, or sandwiches, fruit, sodas, crisps, chips, chocolate bars, salads… There is even a pop corn machine ! But pupils often bring there own lunch themselves.
For the afternoon, students practise sports or do an activity like music or drama. A lot of students who do sports are on their school team because each school offers a lot of sports activities and has its own teams. Pupils often wear at school the T-shirt or sweat-shirt of their sport team, and matches are organized between several schools.
American students are very serious and study around 2 hours every day at home, when they don’t have too much homework. They don’t have class on Saturday but they go to school on Wednesday like the others days.
They don’t have a lot of holidays compared to us : because of an American law they must go to school a certain number of hours in the year. Their holidays : 1 week in autumn, 2 weeks for Christmas, 1 week in February, 10 days in the spring. They also have extended week-ends :Labor Day in early September, Thanksgiving in late November, Martin Luther King Day in January and Memorial Day late May.
To put it in a nutshell, we can say that American students are very open-minded. There are a lot of different styles, ways of dressing, and they’re all accepted. We saw amazing things like people wearing pyjamas or slippers !